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10 tips for avoiding loneliness

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With over one million older people in the UK reporting that they are chronically lonely, loneliness is a major challenge for our country. Edwin Ingleton shares his top 10 tips for avoiding loneliness.

1) Join a social group

Meeting new people can be stressful for some so find one which has an activity programme that is of interest to you. Not only will you enjoy the activities, over time you will get to know people in the group and it will become easier to interact with others.

2) Find out if your old employer runs any retirement groups

Some public service organisations or industries support former staff members in this way, e.g. the NHS Retirement Fellowship, the Civil Service Retirement Fellowship.

3) Get connected

Keep in touch with family and friends by computer, tablet or mobile phone. Learn to skype so you can see your loved ones, even if they live in Australia! Getting connected is also a good way of tracing old friendships which may have lapsed.

4) Volunteer

Charities, local councils and many other organisations need additional support. Your skills from business, managing the family and home or from your personal interests could be of benefit to others. Standing for election as a councillor, supporting young children to learn to read in a local school, putting on musical events for a local care home or starting a new social club are just a few examples.

5) Start a small business

Retirement doesn’t have to mean the complete end to your working life. If there is something you have always wanted to do or have noticed a gap in the market, it might be the time to look into this.

6) Look at alternative living / housing arrangements

Extra care or sheltered accommodation developments can provide a community of other people of a similar age. If you are by yourself, maybe consider moving in with a friend to support each other?

7) Embrace your inner creativity

With time available now without a family to look after or the daily work routine, why not let your creativity go wild and write the book you have always planned, learn a new language, take up sculpting or join a choir?

8) Exercise regularly

How we feel physically can impact our mental health. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, keeping hydrated and eating regularly. A healthy body and mind go hand in hand, so why not consider joining a zumba class or a pilates or yoga session? Perhaps you’d like to re-live your time as centre half or would consider joining a walking football group. It’s never too late to start an exercise regime and put your body through its paces – even if the pace is slower than before!

9) Apply for an older person’s bus pass

Save money and explore. Now you have more time on your hands, plan a day trip. See some local sights and discover hidden gems in your area.

10) Smile and say hello

Smiling at others can help lift our own mood, so why not chat to the people waiting next to you at the bus stop or ask the cashier in the supermarket how their day is going? You never know where that smile might lead!